Medical Mistakes During Delivery Can Be Tragic for Mother and Baby
As the big day finally arrives, many mothers-to-be breathe a sigh of relief. Whether the pregnancy has been easy or difficult, they look forward to welcoming a new life into the world and hope that they have avoided all the potential risks to the baby’s health over the last nine months. However, the sad truth is that some babies and mothers are injured on that much-awaited day in the delivery room by the mistakes of doctors, nurses, midwives, and hospitals.
If you have questions about your family’s rights or need help understanding what went wrong during your delivery, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced attorneys to discuss your concerns. It can be very difficult to understand what might have happened during delivery and what rules cover reasonable medical procedures and hospital policies. To help you understand how these tragic injuries happen at birth and why, here is an overview of some of the biggest mistakes that are made by doctors during the delivery of a baby.
Failure to Monitor Fetal Distress
Throughout labor and delivery, there are a number of things that need to be closely monitored to ensure the health of the fetus. If anything is overlooked, it could have serious consequences, ranging from complications during birth to severe brain damage or even the death of the baby. Birth injuries and complications can be caused by the medical staff’s failure to recognize the following types of issues and conditions:
- Mother’s blood pressure and general health during pregnancy
- Mother’s contractions during labor
- Premature labor or delivery
- Fetal heart rate and vital signs of the baby during and following labor and delivery
- Identifying and resolving signs of fetal distress
- Preventing, recognizing, and treating infections in the mother or baby
- Umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck
It is the responsibility of the doctors and their staff to identify abnormalities with the mother’s contractions, fetal heart rate, and all of the processes involved in the labor and delivery of a child. They also have a responsibility to take appropriate action if any complications arise. Any failure to do so could create grounds for a medical malpractice claim. These cases can be extremely complex, so don’t be afraid to contact an attorney with questions about appropriate monitoring during birth.
Failure to Manage Breech Birth
Breech births account for around three percent of births in the United States. The reasons for breech birth are unknown, although some experts point to likely factors, such as a small pelvis or uterus, too much or too little amniotic fluid, or placenta previa.
“Failure to manage” a breech can mean several things, depending on the circumstances. This might include a number of mistakes, such as:
- Failing to diagnose before labor that the baby was in a breech position
- Not ordering a scheduled C-section
- Not monitoring adequately during a trial of labor
- Not performing rotating maneuvers (external version) to move the baby to the head-down position before labor begins
- Not identifying twins or other multiples
A breech birth that is not handled correctly could result in:
- Collapsed umbilical cord
- Severe bruising
- Fetal distress
- Lack of oxygen and brain damage
- Brachial plexus injury
- Erb’s palsy or injury to the shoulder nerves
At the Law Offices of Lane & Lane, LLC, we have had considerable success helping parents whose baby was injured or died because of needless physician, nurse, or hospital error. We know that birth injuries from any cause result in immediate pain and suffering for parent and child. We also know that some birth injuries mean that the child will face a lifetime of disability. Our attorneys work hard to give our clients the resources to cope with situations such as these.
Excessive Use of Pitocin
Pitocin is a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin, which induces labor and strengthens or speeds up contractions during the birthing process. When used properly, it speeds up the delivery process and can prevent the need for a Caesarean section. Pitocin is a very powerful drug, and using too much of it can have a serious negative impact on both mother and child.
For mothers, too much Pitocin can lead to uterine hyperstimulation, which results in stronger and often much more painful contractions. Beyond creating a potential need for unwanted pain medication, mothers could also be at risk for uterine rupture, premature separation of the placenta, and other serious conditions.
It is the baby, however, who is at the most serious risk when an excessive amount of Pitocin is used. The primary concern in these situations is the decrease in the amount of oxygen due to the reduced blood flow to the fetus. When the baby does not receive enough oxygen, serious brain damage can occur and may result in lifelong conditions, such as cerebral palsy.
Once Pitocin has been administered, constant electronic fetal monitoring is essential. Failure to properly monitor the condition of the baby can have catastrophic consequences and could establish grounds for a medical malpractice claim. If you or your child has suffered an injury during the delivery process due to the excessive use of Pitocin, be sure that you have an experienced medical malpractice attorney on your side who will fight to protect your interests.
Improper Use of Forceps and Vacuum Extraction
When a fetus is in distress or in the breech position, the use of forceps or vacuum extractors may be appropriate to facilitate the birth. When done properly, forceps and vacuum extractors can be helpful during difficult births. When mistakes are made using forceps or vacuum extractors, however, the consequences can be tragic for the baby, including:
- Brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
- Facial nerve damage
- Facial scarring
- Skull fractures
When these surgical tools are used inappropriately, there is also a risk of injuries to the mother, including:
- Nerve damage
- Rectal injuries
It is the responsibility of the doctors to properly perform the forceps or vacuum extractor delivery, including knowing when the use of forceps and vacuum extractors is appropriate and using them safely when they are needed. At the law firm of Lane & Lane, LLC, our lawyers represent clients in all types of forceps and vacuum extractor birth injury cases.
Failure to Perform a Caesarean Section
Approximately 20 to 25 percent of all births in the United States are handled via Caesarean section (also referred to as a C-section). These procedures may be required for a number of reasons, including fetal distress, the baby being too large to pass through the birth canal, the baby being in the breech position, and many other causes.
Failure to perform a timely C-section can cause lifelong health complications for babies and families, including severe brain damage and the costs of comprehensive medical care. We have helped clients get the support they need in cases where a failure to perform a C-section has resulted in:
- Uterine rupture
- Fetal brain damage
- Cerebral palsy
Labor and delivery room doctors and nurses have a responsibility to identify the complications that might call for a C-section and to act quickly when one is needed. If your child has suffered any kind of ill effect because of a doctor’s failure to perform a timely C-section, you should seek the advice of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer immediately.
Unexpected Fetal Death
There may be no more painful experience a parent can go through than having a child stillborn. When it could have been prevented, however, it only compounds the tragedy of the loss. Stillbirths that happen because of the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional constitute medical malpractice. We have experience with all types of stillbirth cases, including those resulting from the following:
We know that there is no amount of money that can fill the void created by the loss of your child. While your thoughts may not turn immediately to the legal implications of your baby’s death, it is important to understand your rights and the potential remedies that are available to you. If your child was stillborn because of an error on the part of the physicians or hospital staff, you should seek the advice of a medical malpractice lawyer. The attorneys at the law firm of Lane & Lane provide strong representation to clients who have lost a child as a result of the negligent actions of obstetricians, midwives, nurses, and others.
Fighting for the Justice Your Family Deserves After a Birth Injury
According to Illinois law, parents may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, funeral expenses, grief, sorrow and mental suffering, and the loss of affection and companionship when a baby is harmed by a negligent doctor. Our attorneys have experience handling all types of birth injury cases, and we would be happy to help you start investigating your rights in a free case review. If you decide to hire our firm, we will fully investigate the cause of your baby’s death or injuries and determine if these issues could have been prevented. We work closely with scientific and medical experts to help us build the strongest possible case on your behalf.
If you need help, call us today at 312-332-1400. We understand how upsetting it can be when your life or the life of your child has been put in danger due to the negligence of a trusted medical professional. We also understand the responsibilities of the OB-GYNs, nurses, and other delivery room staff, and we know the standard of care they are required to maintain. When they fail in their responsibilities, we are there with you to hold them accountable.